Sunday, March 06, 2005

Policybusters Unite! We Have Nothing to Lose but Our Chains!

In the spirit of Adbusters publisher Kalle Lasn's observation that far too few intellectuals move beyond "theories and explanations" to directly engage injustices, we issue this challenge: If we are to move beyond critique to tangible material change, we need to transform the way we discuss, write about, and make policy.

After the recent U.S. election, Lasn's critique is painfully apt as it relates to most writing and thinking about policy in the United States. If we want to reclaim the power of policymaking from the elite wonks and thinktanks (both conservative and liberal) that now own it, we need to engage the discussion, critique, and revisioning of domestic and foreign policy in creative ways that involve a diverse public in the activist work of democratic policy-making.

Inspired by the indymedia movement, this site is the seedbed of a new media forum (with both virtual and real world public manifestations) called "POLICYBUSTERS: A Public Forum for the Democratic Transformation of American Policy and Culture." This forum is dedicated to bringing together progressive intellectuals and activists, within and beyond academia, to transform the character of public debate on issues of public policy.

POLICYBUSTERS is dedicated to developing a framework of collaboratively engaged policymaking that breaks down the divides between democratic citizens and the work of government and policy. Policymaking, like government, should be owned by common citizens in our everyday thinking and action. Since our policy, like our government, is what we make of it, let us take on the work of reforging public policy that will allow us to live up to the ideals of democracy, instead of continually betraying our democratic aspirations.

Democracy functions well only to the degree that a diverse majority of people go beyond mere voting to claim their authority and power to be policymakers. POLICYBUSTERS will develop public forums that bring citizens together to engage the common work of reclaiming both government and policy from those who have betrayed their democratic potential.

Insofar as the Bush administration's ideal of an "Ownership Society" strengthens the existing regime of elite control of the means for making and determining policy, it is an "ideal" that fundamentally betrays democracy. The only way to take back real democratic "ownership" of society from those who have claimed it as their property to manage at will, is to recreate and reinvigorate the democratic spaces and powers of policymaking. This can be done through building an organized, diverse, collaborative democratic movement. Fostering an insurgent movement of democratic policymaking is the primary objective of Policybusters in the years ahead.

For before we can truly assist the development of democracy in the rest of the world, we must be sure we know how to create real democracy in our own countries. Without democracy at home, in full consciousness that real democratic politics rejects all practices of domination, the call for a national crusade to foster democracy abroad becomes nothing more than an invitation to imperial intervention and military domination--and to the destruction of democracy everywhere, including in the United States. Without effective democratic control of policymaking, the "Homeland Security" state becomes a Homeland Police State (voting, after all, in the United States or Iraq, can be merely a distracting tool of domination in the absence of more democratic processes of policymaking).

At this moment, to do nothing is to allow the sham democracy, masquerading in the name of the people of the United States, to continue to impose its imperial will on the world, to the detriment of all humanity. Effective democracy at home requires us to recreate and take back to ourselves the democratic powers and spaces of policymaking.

Please join us in this public work.

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